The Transatlantic Business Council, the cities of Tokyo, Sao Paulo, and New York, Mafia organization, groups of hacktivists, the anti-death penalty network, and the traditional family values network, as well as the United Cities and Local Government network (UCLG) and Climate Leadership Group (C40), are all newly important actors in today’s international affairs, as either individual actors or aggregated in networks. In the complex post-international system of global politics, the relationship between governmental and non-state actors is more and more central. In recent decades, global governance has provided non-state actors with new opportunities to influence public decisions at the international level. Non-governmental actors are present in different forms in all phases of the international policy process: agenda setting, policy decisions, implementation, monitoring, and finally in policy evaluation. Multi-stakeholder initiatives, private-public partnerships, transnational networks, hub cities, and foreign policy by proxy are all new forms of carrying out international politics. Today’s international affairs and global governance are strongly characterised by the interaction between traditional state institutions and non-state actors. While government-to-government relationships are still very important, an actor who does not take into account the different types of non-state actors is bound to fail, or at least to have harder times, in pursuing its goals. This report intends to be an analysis and a guide both for governmental and non-governmental leaders in shaping their strategies regarding global politics.

The world in which we live is complex and plural. When under pressure, some political actors think that the best response is complete withdrawal inside national boundaries or a retreat into the vernacular. Other actors profess an unconditional faith in complete openness towards a completely integrated world. The message of this report is that neither complete closure nor complete openness work by default. While there are certainly many opportunities out there in international affairs, there are also many risks. And we need to consider both simultaneously. In global politics, there are many actors and dynamics that exist beyond classic state-based scenarios. In order to be successful, any public action needs to take all of these variables into account. Most of the time, in order to develop successful political action at the local and national levels, activism at the international and transnational levels is necessary. At other times, more caution is needed in building cross-border bridges and networks.

Without an understanding of the origins, dynamics, and consequences of globalisation it is difficult to analyse present-day political interaction. Moreover, it is not only a matter of analysis. Ignoring the playing-field and the implicit and explicit rules of the increasingly globalised world in which we live makes it impossible for any actor to be effective in public activities, whether political, economic, or social. A politician, business manager, civil servant, activist, or scholar who is unable to interpret globalisation cannot understand in a comprehensive manner the situation in which we live today, and they will be even less able to adequately manage it.

This report is divided into the following sections: Firstly, an account of the main challenges of current world order is provided. Secondly, the characteristics of current forms of global governance are analysed with a special focus on the interaction between state institutions, markets, and civil society actors. Thirdly, the main features of global multi-stakeholder politics are examined, including the key cleavages, mechanisms, and strategies of hybrid actors. In the final section, political considerations are formulated to assess the risks and the opportunities deriving from the new scenario of multi-stakeholder global politics.

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The views and opinions expressed in this publication are those of the original author(s) and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views and opinions of the Dialogue of Civilizations Research Institute, its co-founders, or its staff members.

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Raffaele Marchetti (Laurea, Rome; PhD, London) is assistant professor in International Relations at the Faculty of Political Science and the School of Government of LUISS where he holds a Jean Monnet European Module on EU’s Engagement with Civil Society funded by the European Commission. His research interest concerns globalization, global governance, and transnational civil society. He was scientific coordinator of FP6 Strep project SHUR. Human Rights in Conflicts: The Role of Civil Society; and was Fellow at the European University Institute, the Italian National Research Council-CNR, and in the Network of Excellent GARNET. Global Governance, Regionalisation & Regulation. He was also research contractor for the FP6 research project DEMOS. Democracy in Europe and the Mobilization of Society, and the European Union Institute for Security Studies-EUISS. He taught at LSE, American University of Rome, John Cabot University, Universite de Geneve, and University of Naples L’Orientale and carried out research at University of Exeter, University of Nottingham, and University of Urbino. In 2005, he received the Lawrence S. Finkelstein Award by the International Studies Association-ISA, Section on International Organization. He has published 8 books/edited books and more than 50 articles in journals/edited books. He is currently completing a book on The Other Side of Global Politics: Goals, Strategies, and Impact of Civil Society Mobilizations and working on a long-term project on Constructing Global Legitimacy.